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And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

16:2 by her. In the culture of the time, it was considered so essential for a wife to give her husband an heir that, if necessary, she could have a child by proxy, as it were, through her personal maid. Note also the similar arrangement for Jacob by his wives, Leah and Rachel (Genesis 30:3,9). The famous Nuzi tablets, found in northern Syria, confirm that it was customary and legal in the nations of that time and place for a wife unable to produce children to provide her handmaid to be a surrogate wife to her husband, with any resulting child considered her own.

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